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Should We Keep Letting the MPAA Fib

The MPAA is always going on about how they are losing tons of money in the theaters because of pirates. However a AP article recently pointed out that

Since the first weekend of May, domestic grosses total $1.46 billion, up 4.6 percent from 2007’s, according to Media By Numbers. Factoring in higher ticket prices, actual movie attendance this summer is up 1.6 percent.

But this isn’t the first time someone has pointed out this inconsistency. And an Ars Technica article points out that

US box office doing its biggest year of business ever in 2007, growing 5.4 percent over 2006 and bringing in $9.63 billion

So the question is, how much longer are we going to let the MPAA concoct a “truth” that allows them to push new crappy laws that erode our freedoms? But are we sure they are fibbing? Maybe they made some honest mistakes? Unlikely, the Ars Technica article also reminds us that

It turns out that the MPAA’s college [piracy] numbers were off by a factor of three, a revelation that came after years of hiding the study’s methodology but continuing to lobby Congress with its numbers.

Such gross lies are clearly not innocent. You can expect the same of the laws they’d like to push through.

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boneheads, whatnot

Boycott Regal Cinemas

A little while back a 19 year old woman in Virginia was arrested for filming 20 seconds of Transformers with a digital camera (a Canon Powershot, not a video camera). The 20 second clip was for her 13 year old brother in order to get him excited about the movie.

Was that a little dumb? Yes.

But clearly this woman is no criminal. The worse case scenario would have been that her brother was not swayed by the 20 second clip and decided not to see the film. Arlington prosecutor, Richard E. Trodden realized that this was a harmless error in judgment and not some villainous pirate trying to steal the movie. He let the woman make a guilty plea, she paid a $71 fine and is on probation for a year. Seems fair.

Regal Cinemas didn’t think so. They wanted her prosecuted fully in accordance with their zero tolerance policy.

Regal Cinemas would like this woman’s life ruined over 20 seconds of a movie on a digital camera. Yes, it was stupid, but should she have been sent to jail for a year and be forced to pay $2,500 for that youthful mistake? No. And that is why everyone should boycott Regal Cinemas. Find the one nearest you and avoid it like a rabid porcupine. It is time that movie theaters stop treating customers like criminals. No more wearing night vision goggles, no more zero-tolerance policies.

Also, let them know how you feel: ddelaria@regalcinemas.com

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humor, politics, technology

Ten Things I Hate About Comandments

Fair use makes great derivative works like this legal. Of course Viacom still had it taken down, even though they legally don’t own it. But now it is back, take a look.

This is just one of the many reasons fair use needs to be protected. The DVD-CCA (the folks is charge of DVD licensing) are trying to make it illegal to copy a DVD in anyway, in fact they don’t even want people to playing a DVD movie without the DVD in the drive. So for example, if you wanted to save battery life on your laptop during travel by watching a movie from its hard drive you’d be doing something illegal. The worse thing is that the DMCA will probably make it work— hope you’re all ready to say goodbye to your rights.

People should write to their representatives and let them know that we all think the DMCA needs to change. The content creator’s rights are important, but the rights of the people purchasing that content is important too. The problems with the DMCA go way beyond DVD protection— fair use and innovation freedom in general are being strangled.

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technology

HD DVD Can Kiss DRM Goodbye

Well it’s official now HD DVD can be made clean. It was already defeated a while ago by some hacker in Canada named “Muslix64,” but now there is commercial software available that will allow folks to backup their HD DVD’s and make them playable on hardware that isn’t DRM-friendly. SlySoft has put out AnyDVD HD and they say it is only a matter of time before it supports BlueRay as well.

Thank goodness. I am sure the MPAA is crying into their collective cereal, but this is great for consumers. It gives us back the power to use the things we pay for. What does getting the power back mean? Well SlySoft names a few things, you can:

watch movies over a digital display connection, without HDCP compliant graphics card and HDCP compliant display. No need to buy an expensive monitor. Sweet!

Playback your discs on your PC with PowerDVD Ultra, which otherwise do not run

Sure it can be misused, but so can a most things. Online piracy shouldn’t be too big of concern for a while yet though. Apparently a few HD DVD’s have shown up on bittorrents, but they are gigantic, weighing in at around 19 gigabytes per movie.

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The MPAA Might Need a Better Public Image

Recently a satirical news story had some people up in arms. The idea of the story was that the MPAA wanted to start charging each person that watched movies at home. The idea being that the MPAA though everyone who watched a movie ought to own it or at least pay for it. Outrageous, yes, but not outrageous enough to be put beyond the realm of possibilities. Lots of people thought this was the real deal. The question is why?

Could it be that people think the MPAA is greedy? Looking at the news we can see that just recently movie studios came out saying that they want to impose heavier limits on iTunes store movies (there are already some pretty crappy restrictions), people have a good reason to think they are greedy.

mpaaThe interesting thing is that they keep saying they don’t want to have the problems that record companies have had with downloading music. They say that, the question is whether they have considered that part of the reason record companies have done so poorly (aside from releasing terrible music) is because they were unable to adapt to new consumers.

Consider yourself that a movie ticket in Seattle costs $9.50, then you’ll have to watch five to minutes of commercials, and most of the movies out at these huge theaters are, at best, mediocre. Does this have anything to do with people not going to the theaters anymore? A family of five has to spend money on gas, probably some crappy over priced food and then there’s the tickets and maybe even parking. We are talking well over $60 for them to see a movie. Or they could watch one of the movies they just got from netflix for $17 a month. Best of all there are no commercials, annoying people in the audience (unless your family and friends are annoying), and if the movie sucks you just send it back— you’ve barely lost any money on the deal, certainly no where near $60-$70 dollars.

But that isn’t the reason movie studios are doing poorly. It’s clearly pirates, lurking in the filthy darkness where they grow rich off the sweat of the sweet hard working movie execs who just want people to play fair.

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